GT Arts

Interview: Scottee

The Worst of Scottee

Everyone’s heard of the Best of… it’s one of those things the artsy types do to say they have reached a milestone in their career. But the brilliant Scottee is serving up a 'Worst Of'! Hilar and hurrah! He’s asked the people he wronged in his life to come forward and tell the world what a dick he’s been to them. We caught up with the man himself just before his new show, The Worst of Scottee, opens at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

So, are you scared about what people will say about you in the worst of Scottee?
[Laughs] That’s a good opening question. Not like what’s your favourite colour. They always start with what’s your favourite colour! I think the reason I did the project is I’m interested in what people think about me. When you look like I do, you know, during the day a jazzed up version of the Go Compare man. And in the evening some cheap Liberace, you have to quickly get over what people think about you. You have to want them to not like you. I am not scared of what people think. But then saying that, the first time, I’ve just seen one bit of the film, it’s the promotion video where she’s like, “you know I can’t believe he did that!”

(The promotional video sees a young woman taking about an incident she and Scottee had when they were younger.) What did you do? Do you even remember?
Yeah I do, yeah. I didn’t do it to her. I did it to a friend of ours, who declined to be a part of the project. Five people declined. I only got three people to say; yes they’d do it. It’s been really tough trying to get people to agree to be part of this.

You’d think that people would be happy to say bad things about someone, especially when you want them to...
I’ve caused a lot of emotional damage, especially with the opening story. I was quite manipulative from quite a young age, I made one person’s life quite difficult. I’ll tell you what I am more scared about, having to re-confront this. We can all run a way from our past, meet new people and they don’t know anything about us and that’s fine, but with this I am actively looking for my past. And I am giving it to an audience and going, this is what a dick I am! And so that’s frightening. But it’s compelling. I mean wouldn’t you want to know what people thought of you. I want to know.

You’ve given them the opportunity on a platter.
Yeah! Come the fuck on; tell me what the fuck you want to say. But you know, it’s not for everyone. You know I guess when I started the process I was quite proud, like I’ve done this, and I’ve done that. And then you actually start to look at it and look at what people have said about it and people’s reactions and you think that pride has kind of gone, and so I am trying to keep that pride in the show so it feels authentic. Am I scared? No! Secretly… yes! I am not afraid of what they think of me. I am afraid of what they are going to say, because what they are going to say, I’m not editing it.

Has there been anyone in it that has said things that you didn’t expect them to say?
One of them has been quite surprising. I chose one who I thought would be quite homophobic, because they were really homophobic to me as I grew up. And in the film she says, I grew up in an Afro-Caribbean background and he was the first gay person I’d ever met, and I was quite horrible to him and nasty about his homosexuality. Just as much I as I want them to realise I’ve changed, I want to realise they’ve changed. I was suddenly confronted with the fact that these people had changed and I was like, oh, you’re not going to be the homophobe. So yeah that surprised me.

Do you think any of the people that declined had seen your previous work? Or do you think in contacting them it made them Google you perhaps?
Well no because they were contacted anonymously by a third party. So they don’t know necessarily that it is me. I call myself the artist, so they don’t know who they are even there to talk about. That’s been interesting to me, because I was worried that people might go; oh it’s Scott and then they are like who?

Do you think that after hearing what people say in the show you will change your personal character?
I think I have changed already. I think through having a couple of weeks development, I’ve become more aware of the things that I have done to people and the fact that I haven’t been a great person. And that kind of gives you humility. You can quite easily get caught up in being Scottee, for all that’s worth, and then you have to remind yourself that, Oh my God, people are disappointed in me. Going through those difficult times, and reliving those difficult memories, that is always going to change you because you gain a new relationship with your past. You know you start to understand them, you start to process them differently, so I think the more and more I am in this show, the more I will change and by the end of it I’ll have a nervous breakdown or a Nobel Peace prize.

Or make another piece of work about it?!
Yeah. The Making of the Worst of Scottee. I think my character changes all the time. You know, depending what mood I am in, and because when you are in drag or regalia, everything is heightened, more extreme. Some people are really frightened to come to my shows. They sit at the back because they don’t want to be noticed. And then I catch myself looking at someone and thinking, oh, that’s a beautiful fabric you’re wearing. I guess in my head I am just being funny and engaging and bringing people in, but some people are frightened of that. Where as I like to think of my shows as having a bit of a natter with people; delusions of grandeur probably.

There is a real theme of iconography within your work, from your obsession with Lisa Stansfeild, to your own attempt at becoming an icon in Follow (a project in which Scottee tried to gain as many Twitter followers in a month as possible), who is your icon?
I think that the notion of icon is difficult, because I am too self involved.

So are you your own icon?
No, I think I am iconic. No I don’t, I think I am cult, which is short hand for 'a few people like you'.

But I think I’d rather be cult then iconic.
I think I’d rather be iconic, because I’d like to be able to feed myself. You know, to be cult is to be revered artistically, by other artists. To be iconic is to be accepted by society for being peculiar. I was on a bus the other day and I was saying to myself, as artists we have to make nice pictures out of horrible issues. You know. I am a cunt. We are all cunts.

The Worst of Scottee will be at Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 1 August until 24 August (excluding 4-5, 11-12, 18- 19) at The Box, Assembly George Square. A UK tour will follow soon after.

Words: Pete May

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